Calderdale councillors asked to consider impact of Covid-19 on housing market

The pandemic is having an affect on local housing markets, Calderdale councillors heard.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 12:05 pm
Coun Paul Bellenger
Coun Paul Bellenger

Calderdale Council’s Place Scrutiny Board members raised the issue when considering the next hearing stage of the borough’s Local Plan, due in late September.

Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said the COVID-19 pandemic had changed how people worked, the economy in town centres was struggling from less footfall and he asked whether this impact would be considered in relation to the plan regarding new home numbers.

Mr Seaman said there were uncertainties around any modelling but the basic assumptions were the same and would hold true.

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In any event, the Local Plan would be reviewed every five years and the impact of the pandemic could be seen better once things had stabilised.

Coun Roisin Cavanagh (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said the pandemic had impacted where people were thinking of living and working – if they could do it from home as many had during the pandemic, including moving out of cities.

“A house in Todmorden has had four sets of Londoners coming to look at it in the last month. People in cities take advantage of housing prices,” she said.

Calderdale had a shortage of rental property, said Coun Cavanagh.

Mr Seaman said affordable housing for people in Calderdale was a key aspect of the Local Plan but the issue was it would have to be delivered as a proportion of “market development.”

“It varies according to which part of Calderdale you are in, but if we take for example south east Calderdale we would expect 25 per cent of those homes to be affordable,” he said.

South east Calderdale includes Brighouse, where planning includes Garden Suburbs at Woodhouse and Thornhill which, if approved, could see thousands of new homes built.

Mr Seaman said a proportion of the affordable homes would be expected to be for rent and the plan would need to include “rural exceptions”.

Previous hearings heard these would allow some new homes to built around settlements like some in the upper Calder Valley, allowing people brought up in those areas to have the chance of staying where their roots are, said Mr Seaman.

“The bottom line is if we want to deliver affordable housing you have to deliver open market housing,” he said.

A mix of homes of all types was the key, said Mr Seaman.

Board Chair Coun Peter Caffrey (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said he presumed the number of homes the plan could then be reviewed “downward”.

Mr Seaman said land would not be put back into the green belt half way through the life of a plan but it would have to be reviewed to see whether it was delivering as was anticipated.